The Terroirist Wine Club

French transplant Bastien Warskotte came to Georgia in 2014 in a story many expats know all too well: for the love of a Georgian woman. In 2017, he started the Ori Marani winery with his wife Nino Gvantseladze, which has now branched into one of Tbilisi’s only wine clubs. GEORGIA TODAY had the opportunity to chat with Warskotte about The Terroirist Wine Club this week.

What exactly is the wine club?

The wine club is a group of people (around 20) that gather during a wine tasting. Our tasting takes place at Ilja’s hotel [in Tbilisi’s old town]. We compare a wine region of the world with Georgian wines that are similar in style. There is always 20 minutes of explanation and information about the wine region we are talking about, viticulture and winemaking: how grapes are grown and how wine is made. Then we do a tasting for about an hour and a half.

What is your mission? And what does your name mean?

The mission is to learn about wine, learn about some regions of the worlds and understand the potential of Georgian wine. Terroir means ‘place’ in French and refers to where the grapes are growing. Because we focus a lot on explaining why the soil and location of vineyards are important for the taste, we choose this name. For example, why a Cabernet Sauvigon from Bordeaux is different from a Cabernet Sauvignon from Kakheti.

Who is the Terroirist team?

Terroirist is run by myself and [Swedish expat] Ilja Stenberg, the owner of the hotel where we do the tasting. I’m a French winemaker, I started my winery, Ori Marani in Igeoti, [in the] Kartli [region of Georgia]. I studied winemaking and viticulture in Burgundy, France, for five years. I like to teach about wine and meet people!

I come from a grape growing family in Champagne, France. Here in Georgia, I started a small artisanal winery called Ori Marani with my wife. We make sparkling wines, white, rosé and red. Made in Qvevris [traditional Georgian clay wine pots] and old French oak barrels.

So, how do we join the Terroirist Wine Club?

Every month from January until May, we gather at Ilja’s Hotel. Attendance is limited to 15 people, so contact us on our Facebook page if you are interested. The cost is 50 Lari per person. We taste five wines, paired with small snacks (cheese, bread, etc.). In the future, we plan to maybe invite other Georgian winemakers to share their wines with people.

Club members are mostly expats: Swedish, German, South African, and a few Georgians, ranging from 20 - 60 years old. We’re very diverse.

Georgia is, of course, the country of wine. Why did you think Tbilisi needed something like Terroirist?

Just the fact that we focus a lot on wines that are made with minimal intervention; that we talk about the origin of the wine and explain a little bit about winemaking. Most people who drink wine don’t know how wine is made. The goal of the club is pedagogic, and people learn a lot about wine. Georgian wines are special; I love that they are a reflection of the people who make them.

By Samantha Guthrie

Image source: Ori Marani

09 May 2019 14:37